Bridging the fields of human biology, chemistry, physics and computer science, the use of digital evidence has the potential to transform medicine. The Virtual Human exemplifies how using data on every scale and from multiple sources, from the letters in your genetic code to medical imaging of your individual heart, could lead to real health outcomes. This kind of work is only possible with inter-disciplinary, collaborative projects between research teams both within the UK and internationally.

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Click the markers on the map below to see the core-partners of this project and the supercomputers used to create the Virtual Human. You can also find health-care applications that have been developed as a result!

The Virtual Human uses supercomputers to link patient genome data with medical imaging and laboratory test results to identify the optimal treatment for an individual’s particular health circumstance. It will enable the design of personalized drugs and could also be used to predict the safety of medicines using digital evidence, removing the need for animal experiments. The supercomputers needed for this activity do not presently exist within the UK, making international collaboration the only way in which to stay at the leading edge of this technology.

The Virtual Human is a technically ambitious, innovative, data-driven project and will create a highly personalized avatar that can be used for therapeutic decision-making on a clinically relevant timescale. Some of the components of the Virtual Human already exist. For example, anatomical imaging data of the heart, combined with data on the flow of ions can be used to simulate an individual’s heart. These models can then be used to assess optimal design and placement of a pacemaker, significantly improving the quality of life for cardiac patients.  The continued development of other applications as well as the integration of all components within the Virtual Human avatar, requires exascale computing power, which is currently being developed in the US, China and Europe.

Continued government support can enable inter-disciplinary, collaborative research projects like the Virtual Human to be realized.

This will include:

  • ensuring access to facilities in the UK and abroad;
  • active support for a science-friendly immigration policy,
  • the implementation of policies that enable sharing of data across Europe and overseas; and
  • support for continuing the UK’s strength in leading EU Horizon 2020 projects through participation in future funding frameworks such as EuroHPC, which is the portal for the next generation of supercomputing initiatives.